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Saints President Weber to take same role with Hornets

NEW ORLEANS -- Hornets President Hugh Weber is leaving the NBA club, and new owner Tom Benson has appointed top New Orleans Saints executives Dennis Lauscha and Mickey Loomis to oversee both teams.

The change, made official on Monday, puts Lauscha in charge of both clubs' business operations. Loomis, the Saints' general manager, will also head up the Hornets' basketball operations and oversee general manager Dell Demps.

Weber joined the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina, while the club was displaced to Oklahoma City from 2005-2007. The NBA retained Weber after buying the Hornets from George Shinn in December 2010, and Weber played a leading role in boosting the Hornets' season ticket base to more than 10,000 as part of the league's plan to make the team more attractive to potential local buyers.

Weber became a common sight at team-sponsored social gatherings at the homes of business leaders around New Orleans in an effort to deepen the roots of the Hornets in the Big Easy and end a cycle of lackluster attendance for the club since it moved to Louisiana from Charlotte in 2002

The unusual marketing campaign worked, and Benson stepped forward in April to buy the Hornets. Benson also agreed to a long-term lease that the NBA had negotiated for the Hornets at the state-owned New Orleans Arena — a deal that locks the team into Louisiana through 2024.

Last week, the NBA Board of Governors approved Benson's purchase for about US$338 million, and the sale officially closed on Friday.

“We did make a change with Hugh and it is important to note that if it were not for his leadership and running the Hornets during a very difficult time, this sale would have not happened,” Benson said in a written statement. “He made the transition very smooth and he should be commended. In most ownership changes like this, there is normally a change at the top. And although Hugh provided great leadership, we have decided it best to transfer our top management in Dennis to that role.”

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